Monday, October 5, 2009


Steve Weingartner (Richard III) and Deborah Strang (Queen Margaret)
Photo by Craig Schwartz

Richard III at A Noise Within

The City of Glendale is about to lose a valuable treasure. To say that A Noise Within, the Classic Theatre Company is a treasure is surely to miss the mark, but under the circumstances this shining jewel must somehow be easily defined and so… A treasure. For more than twenty years A Noise Within has brought important American Theatre to its stage along with the best of Shakespeare and other classic theatre pieces. Currently, there is a fund raising effort afoot to move the company from its long time home at Colorado and Brand to the hinterlands of Pasadena. The proposed space is, indeed, ambitious and beautiful .. as a professional theatre company deserves. It just seems to me that to lose this vital connection to the arts while at the same time promoting and enabling a disgrace such as the Americana right across the street is not only short sighted, it’s just plain stupid. Had the developer of that eyesore understood the importance of culture in society, he might have found a way to fund a space not unlike the one that A Noise Within may soon repair to. He may have attracted the culturally aware who would patronize the rest of the glitz there in spite of its questionable taste. But.. alas.. alas.. This glorious company will soon be gone and all of Glendale will be the lesser for it.

Not only has the City abandoned culture to venues like the Americana, but they have also done doubly bad service to Glendale citizens and the Theatre by adjusting parking so that it is nearly impossible to park on the streets near by to attend. These new computerized meters which litter Brand compel theatre patrons to find other parking because an evening in the theatre may extend beyond the allowed parking limits. It is, simply, a shame and a crime.

And, so.. to attend this excellent production of the current A Noise Within’s offering of Shakespeare’s Richard III, one has to be lucky to find parking and hope that there won’t be a ticket on the windshield when exiting the theatre.

Classic Theatre is steadfastly being kept alive by the continued excellence of the company at Brand and Colorado. Director Geoff Elliott’s staging of the Tragedy is, at once, historical and current. The intrigues of Richard, the master villain, (Steve Weingartner in a compelling turn) are, at bottom, pure evil. Richard is driven to conive his way to the throne of England and only has to murder half the cast to get there. His efforts succeed briefly, but he then, falls victim to the intrigues of others. Deborah Strang as Queen Margaret sets the bar for histrionics and matches Richard’s rants beat for beat.

To truly enjoy a play like this one, it serves us to check the text or at least the plot before sitting in the audience. The language is not quite so familiar as some of the Bard’s other efforts, but simply allowing the action to unfold as it does in this production is like listening to a concert. To a person, the cast performs Shakespeare’s words with ease, never lapsing into contrived English accents, but allowing (as Hamlet advised) the speeches to flow trippingly on the tongue.

Elliott’s excellent use of space over seen by Darcy Scanlin’s looming monoliths combine with Ken Booth’s lighting to move the play apace.

Though the costuming is slightly askew, the dedication of the company to the words is quite well met and deserves an audience.

Through December 12th, plays in repertory with Crime and Punishment and Noises Off. Check for openings and schedules.

A Noise Within
234 S. Brand Boulevard
Glendale, CA 91204
818 240 0910 x1

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